(Note: No Turkey Legs were harmed in the writing of this blog.)
I like the Renaissance Faire. Yeah … that’s right … I’ll own that confession. I know folks out there probably agree with me on that, but it’s not like y’all are going around confessing your historical nerdism. It’s easy to pick fun at really. I mean, it’s a place where people dress up in costumes and pretend to be something that, minus a time machine (which kinda defeats the purpose) will never be. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t like LARP (Live Action Role Play, where people not only dress the part but act it out … and wonder why they don’t have girlfriends … like I should talk) or other times of full on recreations. The Renaissance Faire is more of a celebration of symbols & sterotypes of the darker ages combined with a heck of a lot of drinking … like St Patrick’s Day without the green food coloring (red yes, green no).
One of the largest Renaissance Faires in the country is LA’s own Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which concludes this weekend after nearly two months of events in Irwindale. The gang went last year, had a great time, and after a false start due to weather we made it out again this year. To give you a sense of things, here are a few phrases (edited … more because I am more sober now .. and funnier) that were heard during the day:
“I’m going to start all my e-mails with ‘Good Morrow’.”
“Your axe throwing would be more impressive if you were actually aiming for the ground, rather than just missing.”
“It’s all fun and games until the Puritans arrived.”
“There was a guy in line at the crepe station dressed as a Spartan. I wanted to ask: ‘Is this was Sparta?'”
“I wouldn’t trust the soap you buy here. What does it smell like? Street Urchin?”
“I thought the guy dressed as Conan was good.” “The one dressed as Conan of the ‘O’ Brian’ clan?”
“Nothing says ‘Renaissance Period Food’ like pita sandwiches.”
“You do you, Dany Targaryen”
“How many wardrobe accidents happen a day here, and how many do you think are accidents?” “I don’t think any are accidents, but to answer your first question … not nearly enough.”
“I didn’t trust the blue bread fairy who was trying to feed me.” “That’s good cause she just dropped the bread on the ground, and went back to eating it.”
“Hey look, it’s Yarn-beard Gandalf”
“It’s all fun and games until the Executioners arrived.”
And that’s just what I can remember … there may have been a few brain cells sacrificed for the greater good.
To give you a flavor of what to expect from such a thing; the Faire is mainly a place for Renaissance and Medieval activities. Some of it representative of the time period, some of it fantasy (like faires and elves and the like), some of it breaching into places that don’t always fit. There blacksmiths, wood workers, net menders, butter churners. There are shops that sell clothing, swords, tankards, toys, spices, and books. Occasionally, folks would parade through either themed on something going on, or just random queens walking about. There’s a lot of beer … a LOT of beer … so you get a higher rate of people not holding said beer .. but there was also a LOT of people enjoying themselves. There were tons of little stages with acts, songs, magic, and fun. The main attraction is the live jousting; including the finale “Joust to the Death” ,,, meaning after the usual jousting, they fake kill each other complete with fake blood (see, I told you there was red food coloring).
My favorites were some of the small shows. At least eight years ago, I became a big fan of a group called the Poxy Boggards – a bunch of rowdy drunk guys with a singing problem. They are not only there, they are one of the resident groups … they are from this area (in fact, turns out I know people who know people in them). Seeing them perform last year at the faire was equivalent to a bucket item list for me … so of course I would see them again this year. A similar group, with completely different reproductive organs, called the Merry Wives of Windsor added to the fun. But it was a performance group called the ‘Washing Well Wenches’ (hard to explain, just think strange women acting a bit too desperate) left me on the ground in tears.
If there is one thing you walk away from a faire like this, it’s an easiness. I don’t dress up for these things, but man … I not only think I could, I think I could see myself working the place. Before y’all get wrapped around that axle, I put that out there because I am not sure anyone would leave that faire without thinking the same thing to some sort of degree. At least two-thirds of the attendees were dressed in some costume to some level – and while they did so to varying degrees of success or uniqueness, there was a bravery to it. It makes you think that you come to a place where you can strip off the insecurities of looking weird in a pirate hat, and just enjoy a day rousting about. Some say they dress up for some of those events because it lets them be themselves; while I see myself being an anxious idiot who worries to much about things … the faire lets people be the self that is so much easier to be.
So if you ever get a chance, visit a Rennisance Faire, and enjoy it for what it is.
Just be weary of the bread fairy.